A Short History of the Digital Revolution, Part 1 of 4

Education Educational Technology

Technology changed everything.

Since the dawn of the New Millennium there has been an exponential increase in the connection between technology and education.[1]  From online degrees, mobile educational apps, streaming video curriculum, and open access[2], the two fields have become inseparably linked.

Surprisingly, the strong connection between the digital world and education is a relatively new phenomenon.  Though teaching and learning are now nearly unimaginable without the aid of technology, this union was primarily forged in the last several decades.  In this chapter, you will learn how these changes came about and the ways technology can be used to enhance the teaching-learning process in Christian education settings.

How The Digital Revolution Occurred

The Digital Revolution was and is a war of the worlds that has been waged from the mid-20th Century until now.  From the 1950s, signs of a Digital Renaissance were becoming evident.[3]  It was then that computers began to be developed, followed in the 1970s by the invention of the microcomputer.[4]  Microcomputers, now commonly called personal computers (PCs), took that powerful technology and placed it into the hands of the common person, irrespective of one’s formal education, age, ethnicity, or nationality.

The Personal Computer and the Development of an Internet Protocol

As computers became smaller and more user-friendly, they became more popular.  With popularity came increased demand, greater supply, and lower prices.  Before long, the personal computer ownership was ubiquitous.  This democratization of opportunity leveled the playing field and fostered the creation of technical knowledge unlike the world had ever seen.  The Information Age was underway.[5]

The widespread introduction of electronic technology was followed by the development of the Internet Protocol (IP), a series of guidelines governing electronic communication.  That is what effectively made the “World Wide Web” possible.

The World Wide Web

Once these were established in the mid-1990s, the “Internet” as we know it was created.  Internet use was immediately adopted and quickly became globally accessible. The availability of Internet-connected personal computing devices soon followed.  This facilitated the explosion of knowledge, something that fundamentally changed how human communication and information was shared.[6]  These creative resources caused by the union of the powerful forces of technology and communication became known as the New Media.[7]


[1] Amemado, Dodzi.  “Integrating Technologies in Higher Education: The Issue of Recommended Educational Features Still Making Headline News.” Open Learning 29: 1 (2014): 15-30.

[2] Oblinger, Diana G., ed. 2012.  Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies.  Lawrence, KS: Allen Press. pp. 85-87.  Open access refers to educational research freely and openly available to anyone able to electronically access these materials, including entire learning courses offered at no charge.

[3] The Digital Renaissance.  http://digital-renaissance.info.  Accessed January 5, 2015.

[4] Mazor, Stanley.  The History of the Microcomputer: Invention and Evolution.  Proceedings of the IEEE. 83:12, (December 1995).  pp. 1600-1608, http://www.xnumber.com/xnumber/Microcomputer_invention.htm.

[5] Computer and Internet Use.  Census.gov. http://www.census.gov/hhes/computer.  In 1984, only 8% of American households had personal computers, with effectively none being connected to the Internet.  By 2013, 84% of all households had one or more computers and Internet access.  Accessed January 5, 2015.

[6] Hilbert, Martin and Priscila Lopez.  The World’s Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information. Science  332: 6025. (2011) pp. 60-65.  http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6025/60.  In 1993, only 1% of communication was conducted on the Internet, but by 2007, over 97% of the world’s communication had become digital.

[7] What is New Media?  http://www.newmedia.org/what-is-new-media.html.  Accessed January 5, 2015.

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